When people hear the word alcoholism, certain images come to mind. Many of those thoughts, stigmas, and assumptions arise from television, movies, and a misconception surrounding alcohol addiction. Problematic drinking can range in severity from occasionally drinking in excess (also known as binge drinking) to alcohol dependence and alcoholism. There are many shades of gray or levels of severity in between.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), categorizes alcohol use disorders using eleven symptoms. To have a drinking problem, it is not necessary to exhibit all the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. Even the presence of a few signs could signal a challenging relationship with alcohol which could benefit from comprehensive addiction treatment. 

What Are the 4 Warning Signs of Alcoholism to Look Out For? 

Unlike some addictions, alcoholism does not develop overnight. It is often the result of chronic, regular drinking that leads to tolerance and dependence. Below are a few warning signs to watch out for that may indicate you or a loved one need to seek help for alcohol addiction. 

Consequences No Longer Matter

A key warning sign of alcoholism is an evident lack of concern for the negative consequences of drinking. When someone struggles with alcohol addiction, harmful effects related to drinking are often soon to follow. These can include new or worsening legal, financial, or relationship problems. They may also include physical and psychological health struggles. If you or a loved one are experiencing worsening adverse effects related to drinking, however, your alcohol consumption is not going down as a result; it could signal you have a problem with alcohol. While anyone can experience negative consequences because of a night of drinking, someone who is not addicted to alcohol is often able to stop drinking, whereas an alcoholic cannot. 

You Cannot Stop Drinking (Even if You Want To)

Another warning sign of alcoholism is the inability to stop drinking, even if you try. Someone who meets the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism may try to quit on their own (cold turkey) and find they cannot. If you or a loved one have been attempting to cut back or stop drinking and have quickly relapsed, it may be time to consider seeking addiction treatment. 

Declining Relationships

All too often, alcohol addiction has a detrimental impact on one’s relationships. When alcohol becomes your first priority, your ability to maintain healthy relationships and focus on day-to-day responsibilities fade in favor of seeking and drinking alcohol. It is not uncommon for loved ones and friends to be hurt or pushed away by behaviors, statements, or actions while you are intoxicated. If you notice loved ones and friends no longer want to be around, or your relationships (such as marriages) have faltered, it may be a sign your drinking has reached the point of alcoholism. 

Declining Physical and Mental Health

Problematic drinking can lead to many new or worsening physical and mental health symptoms. Many who struggle with alcoholism do not prioritize their physical health. As drinking continues, their health continues to decline, sometimes to the point of dangerous effects. The same often occurs where mental health is concerned. It is not uncommon for someone who struggles with alcohol to use substances to alleviate symptoms that arise from pre-existing mental health struggles. If you notice you or a loved one turn to alcohol to alleviate discomfort related to other symptoms, it may be a sign of alcoholism. 

How to Get Yourself or Your Loved One Help

If you or a loved one are ready to quit alcohol, it is important to do so safely and in a supportive environment. Quitting alcohol “cold turkey” can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal due to the sudden onset of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms some may experience. To ensure detox is safe and successful, it is essential to receive comprehensive medical care and support throughout the detox process. At Concise Recovery, our skilled treatment professionals will work with you or your loved one to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment plan that considers your unique treatment needs and goals.

Addiction is a unique struggle, and each person experiences symptoms and challenges in their own way. Here at Concise Recovery, our treatment professions are here to ensure your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met throughout the treatment process. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol addiction and are ready to seek help, contact us at Concise Recovery today.